There is frequent discussion today about the proper role of nationals in missionary endeavor. Some say that we should fund nationals directly with money from the United States so that they may act as our missionaries. Others believe that American missionaries should plant churches and then pastor them until a suitable national can be found to become the pastor. Our understanding of the Scriptures is that missions is only fully accomplished when the nationals on any field are completing the mandate of the Great Commission. Missions begins with pioneering evangelists who bring converts to Christ in a region. It continues as those converts are discipled and organized into a local church. The fruition of missions, however, is a truly indigenous church or group of churches with trained national pastors.
GFA's most visible results in the area of church planting are from the nationals who were prepared in some organized training program (such as a seminary, Bible college, or Bible institute). Numerous churches have been planted around the world by nationals instructed by our missionaries. We encourage all of our missionaries to train nationals through organized efforts. Regardless of the whether the training is formal or informal, the goal is to train faithful men who are capable and dedicated to training others. Our missionaries do this through:
- Organized Training Programs: This refers to training programs which provide some type of formal classroom instruction for nationals. This includes seminaries, Bible institutes, and organized programs within a local church. In some cases our missionaries are offering training that is on the level of seminary training in the States. In other cases, the missionaries are teaching on a more rudimentary level, focusing on core Bible doctrines.
- In-Depth Mentoring: In addition to organized training programs, our missionaries are also mentoring men privately with the goal of preparing them for the ministry.
GFA missionaries are leading or assisting Bible colleges or institutes in the Philippines, Korea, Cameroon, South Africa, Germany, Canada, and Mexico. Many others of our men have organized church-based training programs to prepare men for the ministry.